PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - We've had a little rain and snow this week and a lot more could be on the way. Arizona's Weather Authority team is very excited to track the next two big winter storms, but water managers at Salt River Project might be even giddier.
"These storms could not come at a better time," said Manager of Watershed Management at SRP, Charlie Ester.
"There's been virtually nothing across the watershed, so not only is there tremendous fire danger right now, but the actual vegetation and all of the plants and animals out there are actually hurting for water really badly," he explained.
Ester says SRP's reservoir system is actually pretty full, about 77% full, to be exact. That's thanks to last year's wet winter. That water supply is helping the Valley to get through this currently dry winter. According to Ester, any rain that falls with the next few storms could help add to our reservoirs, but the heavy snowfall that's forecasted is what could really help our state when it comes to fire season.
"Certainly, when we are this dry, I will take any kind of precipitation we can get. But snow is by far much more useful for the watershed area," Ester said. "Because the snowpack will lay across the land and take weeks before it melts. And when it melts slowly, it's given time to percolate into the soil very slowly and actually stay on site up there on the mountain for a much longer time period."
Ester says that will offer a big boost in the fire season ahead.
"We've got a long, hot summer approaching and right now, the watershed is as dry probably as it would be normally in late April or May."
This week's report from the U.S. Drought Monitor showed all of Arizona in drought with 73% of the state in the highest or most severe category, "exceptional drought."
Hopefully, the storms this weekend and next week make a dent in that. Get the latest on your full forecast at azfamily.com/weather.